Blast from the Past: Maruti Esteem’s launch in 1994 with former PM Manmohan Singh, & RC Bhargava

Maruti Suzuki’s journey in the Indian automobile sector started with the introduction of the legendary 800. After the introduction of the hatchback and the SUV with the Gypsy, Maruti Suzuki entered the sedan segment with the Maruti Suzuki 1000 in 1990 and it was replaced by the iconic Esteem in 1994/95. The Esteem was launched during the 1994 Auto Expo, an event that had Dr. Manmohan Singh in attendance. Back then, Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister of India.

The Maruti Suzuki 1000 was launched in 1000 and gained good popularity. When Maruti Suzuki replaced 1000 with the Esteem in the coming years, it did become extremely popular and the demand skyrocketed. Here is a video by Wild Films India that shows how Maruti Suzuki launched one of the most iconic sedans in the Indian market.

The 6-minute video shows how Maruti Suzuki Esteem getting launched in India. The video report also talks about the rivals in the market and how the “luxury” sedan market is growing in the country. Maruti Suzuki priced the Esteem at Rs 3.81 lakh, which was considered as a lot of money back in the time.

The Maruti Suzuki Esteem became a status symbol for the families. It was also an extremely exciting vehicle to drive, especially because of its power-to-weight ratio. That is why Esteem became one of the favourite cars of the rally drivers in the country.

Maruti Suzuki Esteem replaced 1000 from the line-up and one of the biggest advantages of the Esteem was its new engine. The Esteem came powered by a 1.3-litre petrol engine that churned a maximum power of 65 PS and peak torque of 90 Nm. The second generation of the Esteem came with an even more powerful engine, which was capable of producing around 85 PS of maximum power. Maruti Suzuki introduced the electronic fuel injection with the more powerful engine. Initially, only a four-speed transmission was available, which was later upgraded to a five-speed manual transmission.

Luxurious cabin

Maruti Suzuki introduced hydraulic power steering with the Esteem. The top-end variant also offered electrically powered windows. Initially, all the variants of the Esteem offered a climate control system but at a later date, a variant was launched without the AC. The Esteem also offered space to install a 2-DIN music system. Yes, all these features were considered luxurious in those times.

Affordable Esteem launched too

Maruti Suzuki Esteem was also a preferred choice of government officials in those days. They launched a special non-AC variant of the Esteem with a price tag of Rs 3.08 lakh after the Finance Ministry of India approved it.

The vehicle was launched exclusively for government officials. The aim was to end the dominance of Hindustan Motors, which offered the Ambassador and we all know how politicians loved the heavy-duty sedan. The Esteem Standard, which was the special version became the official ride of many officials in the defence, government, public sector undertaking, paramilitary forces and the officers of nationalised banks. Senior officials used the AC variant of the sedan.

Shantonil Nag

Shantonil brings a refined blend of expertise and enthusiasm to motoring journalism at With a career spanning over 11 years, he anchors Cartoq's insightful car reviews and test drives. His journalistic journey began as a correspondent at, where he honed his skills in content writing and scripting car reviews. Later, as Senior Editor for, his expanded role included curating and structuring web content. At, his expanded role includes assisting the video team to create high-quality car reviews. (Full bio)